Final 2021 NFL mock draft: QBs rule the draft, pushing pass catcher down to Detroit Lions

Detroit Free Press

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The players may have changed in my mock drafts for the Detroit Lions this spring, but the reasoning hasn’t.

I still think the Lions would be well served taking a quarterback, if the right one fell to No. 7. Short of that, I continue to hear pass catchers and pass protectors top the Lions’ list of most-desired prospects, with Florida’s Kyle Pitts, LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Oregon’s Penei Sewell as the most likely candidates.

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If four quarterbacks go in the first six picks, the Lions should land one of the top three non-QBs in the draft. If only three go, that might improve the Lions chances of trading down.

After way too much hemming and hawing, here’s my final mock draft

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

This pick is self-explanatory by now.

2. New York Jets

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Wilson is not the clear-cut No. 2 prospect in the draft, or for that matter, the No. 2 quarterback. But he will be the second player off the board.

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3. San Francisco 49ers

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

I don’t doubt there’s a rift in San Francisco, with some favoring Trey Lance with this pick. But Kyle Shanahan is the quarterback whisperer so it makes sense to give him his QB. 

4. Atlanta Falcons

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

I’m playing the odds here. The Falcons need a quarterback for the future, and if they trade down, whoever comes up (Broncos? Bears?) is taking one.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

 I’ve flip-flopped between the Bengals reuniting Joe Burrow with the draft’s best receiver, Ja’Marr Chase, or protecting him with the best left tackle. Ultimately, building a wall in front of a young QB is the best thing a team can do.

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6. Miami Dolphins

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

 Pitts could go as high as No. 4, but in this scenario the Dolphins have their choice of the unicorn tight end or Chase. If both are gone, one of the Alabama receivers seems like an obvious choice.

7. Detroit Lions

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

You can argue about the positional value of receiver, but Chase is too good to pass up in this scenario. Even in a deep receiver draft, he stands apart as a potential difference maker at a position where the Lions have an immense need. One alternative: I could see the Broncos or Panthers moving up to No. 7 if they fear missing out on whichever quarterback is left.

8. Carolina Panthers

Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama

The Sam Darnold trade does not take a quarterback out of the equation, as Lance’s high school coach told me the Panthers are the team that had the most contact with him. But I’m slotting the draft’s best defensive player here.

9. Denver Broncos

 Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

New GM in Denver, makes sense he wants a new quarterback and with Fields sliding it means he can sit in place and wait for his guy.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

No Pitts and no Surtain leaves Jerry Jones deciding between the draft’s No. 2 corner and offensive lineman.

11. New York Giants

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Lot of speculation about a Giants trade down. Come on, people, this is Dave Gettleman we’re talking about.

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

They’d prefer a cornerback, but receiver is almost as big a need and Waddle is the best prospect left.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

 Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

If the rumor mill is right and they really want to trade up for Sewell, stumbling into Slater is not a bad alternative.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan 

Danielle Hunter’s situation is unsettled, which means the Vikings need a pass rusher, and Paye is the safest one in the draft.

15. New England Patriots

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

If Bill Belichick has a trade up his sleeve to bring Jimmy Garoppolo back to town, getting one of the draft’s elite receivers makes even more sense.

16. Arizona Cardinals

Caleb Farley CB, Virginia Tech

Farley is a huge roll of the dice, but the Cardinals are a team desperate to compete in the NFC West.

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

After trading Gabe Jackson, Trent Brown and Rodney Hudson this offseason, the Raiders need help up front.

18. Miami Dolphins

Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

Remember how much the Lions valued big linebackers in that Patriots scheme? Collins is the best of the bunch in this year’s draft.

19. Washington

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Martin Mayhew took an offensive or defensive lineman with five of his seven first-round picks as Lions GM. No reason for him to break script with a blocker as good as Darrisaw on the board.

20. Chicago Bears

WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss

The Bears are so quarterback-hungry I can see them paying a random to move into the top 10 if they find a willing trade partner.

21. Indianapolis Colts

Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami

If the Colts are comfortable with his medicals, they could have a star in Phillips.

22. Tennessee Titans

Liam Eichenberg, OT Notre Dame

He’s the anti-Isaiah Wilson.

23. New York Jets

Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

Davis can be Fred Warner in Robert Saleh’s defense.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Harris is too perfect a fit for the Steelers to pass on.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern

Pairing Newsome with last year’s first-round pick, C.J. Henderson, would give Jacksonville the makings of a pretty good secondary.

26. Cleveland Browns

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Even I’m surprised I have Owusu-Koramoah, the draft’s best coverage linebacker, falling this far.

27. Baltimore Ravens

Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

A ready-made replacement for Orlando Brown.

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28. New Orleans Saints

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Sean Payton should have fun scheming up ways to get Toney the ball.

29. Green Bay Packers

Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia

Aaron Rodgers weeps. Again.

30. Buffalo Bills

Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse

The Travis Etienne rumors were making the rounds this week, but getting a big corner like Melifonwu is a better use of resources for the Bills.

31. Baltimore Ravens

Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

The Ravens seem to have good luck with mid-round pass rushers so they take the best player available after addressing their offensive line needs at 27.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami

The world champs bring back every starter but can use an infusion of youth up front.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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